Ferrari may already have been the surprise of the first Formula 1 pre-season test with the pace and reliability of its new SF70H, but its biggest development could be yet to come.
For while its car has appeared to deliver the speed and handling to please Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel from the off, it is on the engine front that Ferrari may have made even bigger inroads.
And there is now talk that it is evaluating a ‘double anchor’ injection system that could lift its performance later in the campaign.
Ferrari managed to complete the four days of the first pre-season test with just a single power unit, and repeated that feat with its customer team Haas, the only other outfit using its 2017 engine.
While the first outing of the 062 engine is promising, it has emerged that the engineers in Ferrari’s racing department are working on an innovative technical solution that could deliver a big leap in performance later in the campaign.
Double anchor injector
In Maranello, under the orders of president Sergio Marchionne, there has been a lockdown on communication with the media, but word has leaked out that efforts are underway to perfect a new type of fuel injector that has a double anchor.
While double jets are not allowed by the rules, this double anchor can deliver similar benefits, because the injector needle can be opened and closed with much greater precision.
This will reduce the possibility of excess fuel entering the chamber which is then not burned perfectly.
The end result of that there should be more power and less consumption – one of the keys to performance in this turbo hybrid V6 era.
It is thought that this new technology has not been tested on track yet, with the version of the engine that ran in Barcelona being the standard version.
However, if work on the new technology is successful, then it is possible that Ferrari could introduce it alongside its TJI (Turbulent Jet Ignition) concept for pre-combustion in the chamber.
While much of the focus this year has been on the aerodynamic changes, the higher drag of the 2017 cars means that engine performance is going to be even more important.
For although the F1 regulations have made available an extra 5kg of fuel for the race, teams managing to have much better fuel consumption than others could have a big advantage.
If we remember that 10kg of weight on a car is worth three tenths of a second per lap, there are good performance gains to be had if you can run lighter.
F1’s development race in 2017 looks like it will not just be about aerodynamic updates, because there are big pushes coming on the engine front too.